to talk about female desire we need to startby talking about one major misconception, a seemingly scientific theory that most ofus have bought into and that is the idea that while men are genetically programmed to spreadtheir limitless seed and be promiscuous that women by contrast are genetically programmed,evolutionary scripted to seek out one good man, seek out one good provider, seek outcloseness and constancy and so that at least
relatively speaking by this theory women aresomewhat better suited to monogamy, have a sex drive thatâ€™s a bit less raw, a bit lessanimalistic than male libido. that dates back to the early 90s. i went back and looked atthose original academic papers that sort of put that into our consciousness, via the mediathat sort of grasped onto this theory in the
90s. those papers have very, very little substanceto them. they have a lot of circular reasoning. they have very little substantive proof. andi think we as a culture latched onto them because weâ€™re eager to have simple theoriesto explain who we are, especially when it comes to gender. but we need to move on nowbecause all the research and all the researchers that iâ€™ve spent time with now over the lastdecade are really taking us in another direction showing us something very different aboutfemale desire, something thatâ€™s much more driven, much more like we used to considermale desire to be. a force thatâ€™s full of agency and thatâ€™s not that old relativelypassive conception that we for the most part have been clinging to.
so letâ€™s go into some labs. so meredithchivers, a canadian researcher, who i spent a lot of time with tries to look past whatculture teaches us and look at something more immediate. so she puts women in front of pornographicscenes or has them listen to erotic scenarios and measures their response in two ways. oneshe gives them a keypad. they can rate their own subjective response. am i turned on? ami not? to what degree am i turned on? secondly sheâ€™s got a little device called a plethysmographwhich measures the bodyâ€™s response. and what weâ€™re talking about just to get technicalfor a second is a little sort of glassine tube that measures blood flow in the vagina.so interestingly over and over again what women say they want via the keypad or whatthey say turns them on contrasts with what
this little device called the plethysmographsays about bodily response. to give you one example scenario with a super hunky handsomeclose friend as the potential erotic partner versus scenario with the super hunky handsometotal stranger as the erotic partner consistently women say iâ€™ll go with the close friend.consistently womenâ€™s bodies say iâ€™m getting very, very turned on, the plethysmograph readingsare soaring in response to the stranger. what does this tell us? can the little device calledthe plethysmograph say everything there is to be said about desire? absolutely no, itcannot. thereâ€™s all kinds of complexity here. but at the very least it tells us astory that stands in contrast to the story weâ€™ve been told by evolutionary psychologistswhich is what women really want sexually speaking
is that one good man, the intimacy drivenrelationship, et cetera. this stands in total contrast to that it asks us to question thoseold stories and thatâ€™s what researchers are doing now over and over. and thatâ€™spartly because the field has become increasingly filled with female researchers and so theyâ€™reable to see in a different more searching way into their subject. so that brings us to the very complicatedand loaded subject of monogamy. we as a culture have a ton invested in monogamy. itâ€™s thekind of social glue. and i think we all if weâ€™re honest with ourselves have some levelof conscious or unconscious fear that if we really toss monogamy aside our society wouldkind of come apart, you know. itâ€™s still
even though weâ€™ve begun to question monogamyi think seriously as culture it still defines our romantic dreams, it defines what we thinkwe should be as parents. we should be part of a monogamous couple. it just defines anideal for us. and itâ€™s very convenient. itâ€™s very soothing, calming that weâ€™vetold ourselves this story that while man may be animalistic and anarchic when it comesto sexuality, women are again by comparison fairly well suited to monogamy. they can serveas that coherent force. nice for society. nice, of course, for men. i get to think thatmy partner is all about me even though i might
female sexual desire,in coming to, you know, speak today have checkedout any number of women as i made my way down the street. itâ€™s so calming for me. buttoo calming i would say, too convenient. socially
speaking too convenient for men. women aredrawn to the novel and that makes monogamy just as much of a problem sexually speakingfor women as it is for men.